Tesla decides to recall every single Model S vehicle due to a single, isolated incident regarding a seatbelt. One single customer, apparently, turned around to speak with a person in the back seat of their Tesla Model S vehicle, and a seatbelt bolt came undone. No-one was hurt, and the bolt was the sort that tightens the seatbelt in the event of an accident. Shaming recall calculators of other, larger companies, Tesla has decided to do a full recall of the vehicle.
There’s a scene in the film Fight Club in which Edward Norton explains how a car recall is done at his company. He explains how if the amount of cash it’d cost to do a recall is more than the amount it’d cost to do out-of-court settlements with crash victims, they didn’t do one.
That’s a fictional situation – and very, very different from what Tesla is doing here.
Instead, Tesla saw that one, single piece of equipment wasn’t up to spec, and they’re recalling the whole bunch. Tesla Model S users will bring their vehicles in to be inspected, they’ll be OK’ed, and all will be well. Which is great.
“If you are concerned about the status of your seat belt prior to your scheduled inspection, you may be able to detect this condition by pulling very firmly on the lap portion of your seat belt with a force of at least 80 pounds.
This procedure may detect an improperly attached seat belt but performing this procedure does not replace the need for an inspection by a Tesla technician.”
Above you’ll see a portion of an email sent to Tesla Model S owners this week. If you’ve not already gotten this email as a Model S owner, you probably will soon.
What’s smart here is Tesla’s PR approach. Instead of facing a media firestorm at the appearance of a single broken bit in one vehicle – which would be absurd, but they’re a popular company at the moment, so it’s a realistic possibility – they’ve decided to do the opposite. They’ve taken what could have been bad press, and fronted the cash to make it some incredibly good press.